Making Exercise Happen Within Your Daily Dad Life
Geoff Starling CSCS

It’s an all-too-common story: you were an active kid, played sports in school then entered the workforce and watched your level of activity steadily fade away in exchange for more responsibilities, more money and progressively less hours in the day. Fast forward 10-15 years and you have a house, a spouse, a career and some little people running around. Now you barely have time to scratch yourself let alone commit to a regular exercise routine but your doctor has started making comments about your blood pressure and you really do miss that feeling of being able to race your kids up a hillside without having to roll back down.

It’s time to take care of this. But where to start? Your body has changed since your 20s and so have your motivations and your reality. The first shift being that it’s now a good idea to schedule a visit with your family doctor to make sure there’s nothing that might interfere with your plans of stepping back into the exercise arena. It might also be smart to book a session with a chiro, physio or massage therapist so they can take a look at those old injuries you haven’t been looking after. Review your benefits plan and make sure you’re utilising all the wellness services and health spend dollars. There might even be some allowances in there to put towards hiring a trainer for a few sessions to help you get underway with a tailored program to follow.

Once you’ve done that it’s time to dust off those joints and get moving. The best approach is to begin with something you know you can do to reignite the fuse and rebuild your confidence. Something simple like a walk or jog around the neighbourhood can do the trick. Another proven practice is to get your exercise done first thing in the morning before the day inevitably unfurls or to tack it onto an existing event like going to/from work or a regular meeting. Ask around the office to see if any of your colleagues are doing things that you can join in with like a running group or social sports league. Get together with some friends for a game of indoor soccer on the weekend. Go for a lunch hour swim, run or gym class. Run the stairs while the kids are playing hockey; you’re stuck at the rink anyway!

For some in-home options to reduce your turnaround time, you could install a weight rack, TRX or punching bag in your basement or garage. This can be particularly useful if you work from home and scheduling a block of activity somewhere in your calendar can really help to break up the day and reset your thoughts. Including your family in activities like hikes and bike rides on the weekend can be an excellent way to reconnect with them after a long week and establishes a culture or physical activity in your home. This can even extend to destination vacations based on adventure activities versus entertainment options down that track.

Being a dad doesn’t mean you have to sport a DadBod. There are plenty of ways to add some regular exercise into your routine that won’t stretch you too thin across your other responsibilities. Even 20 minutes here and there can begin to make a difference. It’s also a good way to carve out some important “alone” time (lifting weights and throwing punches into a heavy bag are fantastic forms of meditation!). No matter how hard it is to get started, it’s only going to be worse the longer you leave it so so pick something and give it a go!

Geoff is a father of two very busy kids under 6. He is a writer, speaker and fitness professional living in Calgary, Canada.